Book Of The Month: "I'm Frank Hamer"

By John H. Jenkins And Gordon Frost

Book of the month, I?m Frank Hamer, by John H. Jenkins and Gordon Frost.

This is the second report on this book. The first was the leadership of Frank Hamer, a Texas Ranger, in bringing down the corruption in Limestone and Freestone Counties in 1922. This report concerns two Texas criminals who received nationwide attention for their brutality and killings.

In the 1930s the U.S. experienced its worst crime wave. Prohibition was barely over, and the nation was in the grips of the Great Depression. In 1933 over 12,000 Americans were murdered, and 50,000 were robbed. For every criminal executed six law officers were killed. In Texas between 1928 and 1933 there were 4,000 indictments for murder.

This was an era of notorious criminals, including Al Capone, John Dillinger and others. None was more violent than the team of two from Texas ? Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. Proven facts show they killed 12 persons, including 9 lawmen.

Let?s look at a brief bio of these two heartless criminals. Clyde Barrow was born in 1909 in Teleco, Texas. He was one of eight children of an illiterate field hand. He attended school off and on until the fifth grade. He gave it up to join a gang of car thieves and robbers. He had no regard for human life, and he hated all peace officers. Barrow drank very little whiskey and didn?t use dope at all. His favorite smoke was Bull Durham. He hated work. After serving nearly two years in prison, he asked a fellow inmate to chop off two of his toes with an ax. The toes were chopped off to free him from the hard work in the fields. Actually, he was pardoned soon after the incident, and he come home on crutches.

Bonnie?s early life was quite different. Born in 1910 in Rowena, Texas, she was an honor student in school. Her life changed completely when she met Clyde in 1930. Bonnie was very small at 4 feet 10 inches and weighed 85 pounds. Clyde also was small in stature at 5 feet 7 inches. These two felt like giants with their arsenal of weapons and guns in hand. Bonnie was a big consumer of liquor. She smoked cigars and Camels. Absolutely heartless with no feeling for anyone, she would laugh as she put more shots into a dead victim.

The book describes the brutal senseless murders of each of the 12 victims. They murdered in Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Missouri. In Texas the violent murders were in Hillsboro, Sherman, Temple and Grapevine.

Lee Simmons, head of the Texas Prison System set his mind to the task of stopping this infamous duo. He would need the best criminal mind in the state to figure out a plan. His choice was Frank Hamer, former Texas Ranger. At the time, Hamer was working for a Houston oil company earning 500 dollars a month. This was excellent pay during the depression. In taking the case his salary was reduced to $180 dollars a month. Hamer took the job strictly from a sense of personal duty.

Hamer studied Barrow?s habits for over three months before he came up with the plan to trap the couple in the rural northern Louisiana. The only time Hamer told the story of the end of Bonnie and Clyde was to Texas historian Walter Prescott Webb. This story is told in the book. The plan worked. On May 23, 1934 both criminals met a violent death.

Time to recognize the good folks who gave memorials. Darrell and Jane Moore gave for Linda Lou Childs. Marshall and Nancy McSwane gave for Margie Henson. Celinda Brown gave for Margie Henson. Toby Hullum gave for Billy Paul Prestidge. Toby Hullum and Wanda Hullum Brown gave for Violet A. Holmes. Jane Moore gave for Margie Henson. Charlsie Thompson gave for Tommy Pickett.

Sincere thanks to each one who gave.

I?m Frank Hamer is about a great man from a great state enforcing the law. It is easy reading with lots of pictures. Ask for it at the library.

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